Assisted birth

Sometimes labour doesn’t go as planned and your baby will need help to be born. Help can involve relatively simple procedures like breaking the membranes (waters), to more medically demanding procedures such as caesarean section.

While some women have a preference for assisted births, others prefer to have no interventions at all. From a medical perspective, interventions are only introduced when they are likely to preserve the health of the mother or the baby.

On this page you will find information about:

See also:

Forceps birth

Forceps are used to help the baby out of the vagina. They may be used if you are too exhausted to push, the baby is in an awkward position or there are concerns for your baby’s wellbeing. Sometimes the forceps leave a mark on the baby’s cheeks, but these soon fade. You will usually need an episiotomy.

Vacuum (ventouse) birth

This is more commonly used in labour than forceps. The vacuum cup is made of plastic and is attached to a suction device. The cup is inserted into the vagina and creates a vacuum against the baby’s head. This helps the doctor to gently pull the baby out. It may cause a raised bruise on the baby’s head, but this soon fades, usually within a day. You may need an episiotomy.


An episiotomy is a cut made in the perineum (the tissue between the vagina and the anus). Sometimes it is necessary to make the opening to the vagina bigger, especially if you need a forceps birth or if the baby is distressed. A local anaesthetic is used to numb the area and you will need stitches afterwards. The stitches will dissolve by themselves and you will be offered ice packs to reduce swelling and pain.


The Women’s does not accept any liability to any person for the information or advice (or use of such information or advice) which is provided on the Website or incorporated into it by reference. The Women’s provide this information on the understanding that all persons accessing it take responsibility for assessing its relevance and accuracy. Women are encouraged to discuss their health needs with a health practitioner. If you have concerns about your health, you should seek advice from your health care provider or if you require urgent care you should go to the nearest Emergency Dept.